Blog Post

How We’re Bridging Equity Gaps in the College-to-Career Journey

By Subha Barry
October 11, 2023
Topics Recruitment

Did you know that companies typically spend more than six thousand dollars to hire an early-career candidate? It then takes 11 weeks to source and hire them. This hard-won talent is also difficult to retain, with more than a third leaving after three years. It’s a vicious cycle, one that likely isn’t going to change as Gen Z continues to enter the workforce. Gen Z, the most diverse generation in US history, is set to make up one-third of the workforce within seven years, and according to data from LinkedIn, 72 percent of Gen Zers are considering a career change in the next year.

Early-talent recruiters typically source applicants from the same dozen schools they’ve always visited, yet there are qualified students from thousands of colleges and universities all around the country. By limiting their recruitment tactics and locations, recruiters are also limiting their access to students from underserved groups. Time, resources, and budget to recruit students are tight. Talent acquisition teams need a new approach to effectively filter high volumes of applications to identify right-fit candidates without sacrificing equity along the way.

Why the Status Quo Isn’t Serving Student Job Seekers Well

Before turning to the career center on campus or attending job fairs, many college students lean on personal relationships or school affiliation to land their first internship or post-grad job. However, students from historically excluded groups are less likely to have the built-in networks or relationship capital needed to get their resumes in front of the right people. Often, they are first-generation students (the first in their family to attend university) or from lower-income families, and these networking challenges follow them into the workplace. It’s no wonder that nearly three-quarters of recent graduates took a job that didn’t align with their career goals.

When applying to jobs, it has become increasingly difficult for early-career talent to break through. They are battling algorithms and AI, leading many to believe rage applying is the only way to break through the noise and land a job after college.

Student job seekers want to be more intentional about finding the right fit, but they have limited time to spend searching for jobs while balancing graduation requirements. While company websites and job boards provide some relevant information, early-career candidates struggle to find a single source of truth that tells them what an organization is really like. They want to understand a company’s corporate values and employee experience (or their Employer Value Proposition) to better assess their “fit” for a particular role or organization.

At Seramount, we wondered, “What else could be done to decrease inequities in early-career recruiting and increase access for a new crop of talent?”

Embracing Our Unique Position: Connecting College Students and Employers

We realized we were in a unique position to answer an often-asked question from both our higher ed and corporate partners: When would we give students access to roles that employers are struggling to fill and give employers access to the highly diverse and engaged student network embedded in EAB’s student success management platform?

Anticipating sweeping demographic changes in college enrollment and the downstream impact of Affirmative Action being overturned, we launched a pilot program with six companies and seven colleges to build a bridge that will narrow the career equity gap. Notably, 91 percent of the nearly 700 students who completed the application were from one or more historically excluded groups, and employers offered interviews to 75 percent of the students they matched with.

The encouraging results of the pilot inspired us to launch CareerAscent, a cutting-edge early-career recruiting program that helps employers access new talent pools, reduce recruiter burdens, and increase candidate engagement.

How CareerAscent Works

While many companies receive an unmanageable volume of early-career applications to screen, recruiters have yet to crack the code for identifying and retaining a diverse slate of right-fit candidates. We believe removing room for bias and refining your employer value proposition are the keys to better candidate-employer matches. Our Employer Directory helps companies bring their culture and benefits to life for early-career talent. This searchable database distinguishes organizations that prioritize DEI, such as Seramount’s Inclusion Index awardees, and lets students choose where they want to be recruited.

The matching process surfaces candidates who are both interested in and qualified for a specific role, shortens the time from application to interview, and makes it seamless for talent teams to add candidates to their existing applicant tracking system after an interview. Students complete one streamlined job application, going beyond their school affiliation, GPA, and major, to showcase a more holistic view of their professional potential. When students are matched to an open role, their anonymized profile is sent to the employer, minimizing unconscious bias. This benefits students across all demographics and ultimately helps with employee retention.

Since we already reach millions of students every day through our student success platform, CareerAscent is built into the way students navigate life success—helping talent teams engage future job candidates earlier than they would typically begin sourcing them.

As we prepare for the spring and fall recruiting cycles in 2024, I’m excited to see how our partners utilize CareerAscent and tap into our vast student network, bridging the divide between job seekers and employers while making the process more equitable and efficient overall. Learn more about equitable candidate-sourcing and early-talent recruitment from Seramount’s talent management experts.

About the Author

Subha V. Barry
Subha Barry